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Innovating the Debate on Police Violence

Innovating the Debate on Police Violence

         The Mapping Police Violence project articulates and frames the statistics on racialized police brutality in innovative and creative ways, contributing to the national conversation in new, persuasive modes. First, the flashing visual illustrating the spatial distribution of gratuitous police violence displays the haunting information in a drawing and emotionally charged way. There is a unique affect associated with visual representation. Most of the time, police brutality statistics are conveyed through mundane numbers or charts. While people should interpret the significance of the data in the same way in either case, the visual aspect of the colored, spatial display hits home differently. Another twist to this map is that it shows change over time. By displaying the temporal aspect of police brutality, the project is able to shape people’s attitudes over the intensifying nature of racialized injustice across the country (as time has passed, instances of police brutality have become more frequent). Moreover, the spatial aspect of the display means that those living in areas that are more highly concentrated with issues of police violence are more likely to be appalled by the presence of that violence because it occurs disproportionately in their neighborhoods. 

         Second, the visual project is cohesively structured in the form of a narrative. It begins with the map mentioned earlier, before turning to charts that display data. The data starts with a statistic about overall black deaths by the police, then outlines data illustrating the disproportionate racial and spatial distribution of police violence. After that, the data is presented as responses to common counter-arguments. The most common argument, of course, is about crime [specifically, black-on-black crime]. In response, the project contends that the data is not skewed to areas with crime, that some crime-ridden cities have avoided police brutality, and that there is a lack of accountability of police officers. By forming the project in this specific manner, the project designers are able to maximize the persuasive appeal of their visually-presented argument. 

The project can be found here: https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/

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